- Associated Press - Friday, June 19, 2015

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - Kansas legislators aren’t quite done with their work for the year because they inadvertently passed two conflicting versions of a new law aimed at holding down local property taxes, House Speaker Ray Merrick’s office said Friday.

Merrick spokeswoman Rachel Whitten said legislators will reconvene June 26 to pass a bill addressing the problem. Legislators already were scheduled to have a brief adjournment ceremony that day, their last piece of official business after adjourning June 12.

“There is going to be a reconciliation bill,” Whitten said. “It’s a technical clean-up.”

This year’s 113-day legislative session was the longest in state history, as the Republicans who control both chambers were deeply divided over how to balance the budget.

GOP lawmakers increased sales and cigarette taxes as part of a package expected to raise $384 million during the fiscal year that begins July 1. The higher taxes closed the last part of a projected $800 million budget deficit after numerous other adjustments.

The package encompassed two bills. To attract support, GOP leaders included the property tax proposal, intending it to take effect in 2018 to give local officials time to adjust.

Cities and counties will not be allowed to spend an increase in property tax revenues above the rate of inflation as measured by the consumer price index without the approval by voters. There will be some exceptions, including spending to cover bond payments, finance new infrastructure, improve roads, or pay legal judgments.

If cities and counties can’t spend the extra revenues, they’ll have to drop their property tax levies. One bill said the limits would take effect in July, while the other measure said 2018. Republican Gov. Sam Brownback signed both measures Tuesday.

The House approved both bills early in the morning June 12, staying in session on and off for more than 20 hours. Legislators have grumbled in the past that such marathon meetings lead to mistakes.

Whitten said the Legislature’s bill-drafting staff is “very meticulous,” but can be hindered by computer problems.

“Sometimes things get by them,” she said.

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Online:

Kansas Legislature: http://www.kslegislature.org

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter at https://twitter.com/apjdhanna .

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